"I've committed to Mississippi State," said Ryan. "I committed to (MSU Head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom Monday night. After going to a couple of their games and seeing how the fans were, I knew that was where I wanted to be. I've known about Coach Croom since he was a coach in the NFL. When he became the head coach at Mississippi State, I never thought I would get the chance to play for him or even meet him in person."
Now he will.
Ryan caught the eye of Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom and assistant coach J.B. Grimes as soon as they first glimpsed his highlight tape.
"After you see him on film, you'll know why Coach Croom and Coach Grimes liked him," said Rod Gibson, Mississippi Delta Community College's receivers and running backs coach. "After Coach Grimes saw him, he turn around and looked at me and said, 'we'll take this guy right now.' "
Coach Gibson talked about the colleges that have shown interest in Ryan.
"UAB and Mississippi State have offered, but since it's gotten out that he's probably going to Mississippi State a lot of people have backed off of him," said Gibson. "Prior to that, Memphis, Marshall, UAB, State and a couple of other schools were looking at him."
And he received that interest despite only hauling in 10 passes this year. Well, 10 passes for over 390 yards, an average of 39 yards per catch.
"When you see his highlight tape and see how he caught his 10 passes and what he did after he caught them, you'll understand why a lot of people like him. A reason he doesn't have any more catches than he does is that we have at least seven guys who caught 9, 10 passes or more," said Gibson. "Two running backs caught 10 or more passes and we had at least five receivers who caught 9 or more passes."
There are a lot of talented wide receivers in the state of Mississippi in both the high school and the junior college ranks, but there is, according to Coach Gibson, one thing that sets Ryan apart from all the others.
"He reminds me of (former MSU running back and current NFL player) Justin Griffith because of his work ethic," said Gibson, who played football at State the same time that Griffith did. "That is what I tell everybody. All of our running backs worked hard when I was at State, but Justin went that extra mile. It's not that we didn't work hard, it's just that he worked that much harder. Just like with all of our wideouts, they all work hard, but Ryan just works that much harder. His work ethic makes everybody else around him that much better.
"Playing at Division-I, a lot of it is work ethic. He just goes to work and does his job and takes care of his business. And Ryan's attitude is great. He never complains. That makes him that much more of a complete football player."
As for his talent level, he not only has that great size, but great speed and great leaping ability.
"He runs a 4.53 to 4.54 forty," noted Gibson.
And, as for his leaping ability, I'll let Coach Gibson give an example of what kind of leaper he is.
"Ryan never talks, but when we were playing Northwest (MS CC) and there were something like 13 seconds left before the half and we were on the 18-yard line, the offensive coordinator asked what they wanted to do, Ryan looked up and said, 'look, I have two guys double covering me on the backside, but I think I can outjump both of them and then go to the endzone.' The coach said, 'you want it, you got it.' He threw it to him and Ryan jumped up and raced to the endzone."
And I feel certain that kind of playmaking skill is exactly why Coach Croom wants Ryan to play for him next year. And with his commitment, Coach Croom has gotten his wish.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.